Battle of Britain: 303 Squadron - Aerial acrobatics and skirmishes amidst the throws of World War Two
Oh acts of war, what would the gaming industry be without your presence in history? Games like Medal of Honour would never have existed, and nor would any game involving the shooting of a gun at other men holding guns. Sadly for the human race, war is an actual thing, with a multitude of them being fought throughout history to settle various differences in opinion concerning religion, wealth, power, and general territorial dominance. The Second World War has got to be one of the most portrayed conflicts in the history of gaming, and Battle of Britain: 303 Squadron is here to depict the imagined happenings of the battle for aerial dominance over the skies of Britain. Beware of the visual splendour of the game, however; things are not all as they seem.
The gameplay is pretty much your standard side-view aeroplane extravaganza that involves guiding it through the air and following mission instructions in order to complete each stage of the campaign, bringing your squadron, and indeed your country, to victory. Use the left and right arrows to move your plane upwards and downwards through the air; you can perform 360 degree spins and turn to travel in the opposite direction and the plane will simply right itself. Press the X button to shoot your machine guns, and the Z button to apply the throttle and speed up your aircraft.
The game’s structure consists mainly of campaign mode in which you must complete a series of increasingly difficult missions that in turn are comprised of different quantities of manoeuvring, shooting, evading, and repeating. That’s really it, actually, since there is fairly little variation in the gameplay whatsoever. Granted, you do get to use new aircraft from time to time, but in spite of the lovely-looking graphics, the game struggled to maintain my interest and felt about ten times less entertaining than the more rough-around-the-edges but infinitely (or at least ten times) more enjoyable Skies of War Extended. This just goes to show that having all of the bells and whistles that being developed by Channel 4 gives you doesn’t necessarily translate to a successful and substantial gameplay experience.
What is it Good For?
Churchill’s speech following the Battle Of Britain – the battle which Battle of Britain: 303 Squadron is obviously about – was the origin of the famous ‘Never was so much owed by so many to so few’ quote that both inspired and informed a nation of the allies’ success during the battle. Unfortunately, in terms of this game, it seems that never has such visual polish and superficial flashiness been used so unsuccessfully to compensate for noticeable shortcomings of gameplay in a flash game. Though the initial thrill of being a Polish pilot in control of a very well-illustrated plane backed by some decent physics, almost-humorous banter between pilots, and very impressive graphics in general is thrilling, it feels like a cover for gameplay that is in fact very repetitive and consists of a fly, manoeuvre, and shoot routine that soon gets old. I really wanted to the like the game, but the average gameplay and the fact it failed to impress me made it difficult to do so. I think I’ll just like it as a friend: this game just isn’t relationship material.